Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

helping sanctuaries

Mary posted today about a pig sanctuary in Florida that needs help. While some of that help needs to be money, a lot of help also needs to be hands on.

It takes a lot to run a sanctuary in a sustainable way. You need a dedicated group of volunteers (and often employees) to help with the day to day animal care; this is almost always more than one person can handle alone. You need someone to take care of the paperwork; this is a gigantic task for any organization wishing to get and hold onto their 501c3 status. You need someone to do outreach and fundraising; this is essential for obvious reasons. You need someone doing maintenance on the buildings and whatever projects need doing. There are only so many roles one person can fill while caring for the number of animals that Mary’s post mentioned. (Hundreds of pigs! The volume of poop and bedding alone is mind-boggling.)

There’s a sanctuary more local to me that I heard recently needs some help. To be honest I’m not even sure if they know that they need help, but as it was described to me, there isn’t enough shelter for most of the animals. The goats have almost no shelter, and they are animals who hate to get wet in the rain, and can have health issues when they do.

Is donating money enough? Sometimes it is all we can do.

But there are other things, in both situations. Do we know people who would donate or sell at cost construction material? Do we know of groups, maybe an animal rights group in a local college, or animal legal defense fund, or something similar, who could show up en mass to help with construction? (Students seem easier to motivate, to me, to get out and help.) A bit like habitat for humanity, in essence.

This is what has been going through my mind. I was thinking about seeing if I could gather a group of people to go down to Florida until I realized it was 12 hours away. That’s a bit of a stretch, even I had to admit that. But surely there are animal rights groups, colleges or just local groups, in that area. They probably don’t even know that their help is needed.

The regular volunteers, the regular help, is trickier, and not something I know how to address. Poplar Spring has been around for a long time, and it seems they have had strong community support from the start. It helps that they’re in the DC metro area.

I don’t know much about the pig sanctuary in Florida, I don’t know what they really need to keep going other than what I’ve seen on their web page. I do know that if they’re as close to the wire as Mary’s post made it sound, they’re swamped by all kinds of projects, big and small. Getting some work parties out there every few months could make a big difference.

Still, I know no one (aside from Mary and her husband) in Florida. And in any case, I’m not good at organizing people. (I can hardly organize myself!) A friend of a friend used to organize big work parties for Poplar Spring, and he’d get 50 people out there building fences.

We need someone like that to help that sanctuary in Florida. The Humane Society is about to take drastic action because the pigs aren’t being cared for well enough. This is something that donated time and sweat would alleviate.

If they weren’t 12 hours away, I’d be there. Then again, it has been colder in November here than it usually is in January, and Florida is warm…



3 responses to “helping sanctuaries

  1. nothoney November 25, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I’m going down to my hometown in New Port Richey to visit my Dad sometime next spring. It’s quite far from Bunnell, but maybe I can find a sanctuary closer that needs some help and volunteer for a couple of days. Sure beats hanging around the house watching Dad take naps.

    Oh, and it’s not warm in Florida right now. Dad says their overnight temps have been in the 30s! You’ll need to go way far south in the state to find the warmer weather.


  2. Kelvin Kao November 26, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Sometimes, the thing with blogs and all these other online stuff is that its audience is everywhere. In this case, working with the local community (or maybe using something like Craigslist, if there is one) might work better.

  3. Deb December 1, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    kelvin, working with the local community is definitely necessary, but as this case shows, it isn’t always enough. groups like habitat for humanity get large groups of college kids traveling halfway across the country to do some good on spring break. There’s no reason we can’t do the same! Especially when the local community (rural Florida!) isn’t eager to help out.

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